13 Tong2 Ren2 同人



The lower: Li (clinging, fire). The upper: (perseverance, heaven).

Tong Ren: to build fellowship (by putting differences aside and seeking common ground).






Things cannot be stagnant (Pi) forever; therefore Tong Ren is granted. tong2 (to converge) ren2 (people) is signified as ‘to put differences aside and seek common ground to build fellowship’. People in difficulty summon friends with the same aspiration; they join forces, make a breakthrough and topple Pi.

The upper trigram Qian is heaven which stays above. The lower trigram Li is fire and its flames blaze upward; they are different but go in the same direction. This signifies that they have the same aspiration and follow the same course.

The inner hexagram of Tong Ren is Gou (44), an unexpected meeting or fated relationship; on the other hand its image signals that a crisis is emerging as its rival is a vigorous feminine. Its changing hexagram is Shi (7), troops. After fellowship is established, power is consolidated.


Text: Tong Ren (fellowship) is in the countryside, (which offers) smooth progress.  It is instrumental in crossing a great river; it is advantageous (or appropriate) for a gentleman to persist (in the norm of Tong Ren).

Commentary on the text: Tong Ren (fellowship); (the one of) tenderness (i.e. line 2) attains its proper position and the middle (position of the lower trigram) to correlate with Qian; it is called Tong Ren.  (The judgement of) Tong Ren is quoted as saying: Tong Ren is in the countryside (which offers) smooth progress; it is instrumental in crossing a great river, (as) Qian carries it out.  (Hexagram Tong Ren exhibits its norm in the form of the) civilization (of the internal trigram Li) applied with the perseverance (of the external trigram Qian), moderation and righteousness correlating (with each other); (these are) the righteous courses for a gentleman (to persist in).  Only a gentleman can carry through the common aspiration of the world.

Text explanation:

Fellowship reaches far into the countryside, i.e. friends exist everywhere; therefore things can progress smoothly. It is instrumental in overcoming difficulties to undertake a great mission, and it is advantageous for gentlemen to persist in putting differences aside and seeking common ground, as well as establishing widespread fellowship.

Feminine line 2, the representative line the lower trigram Li, occupies the right position and the middle position of the bottom trigram, signifying that it acts righteously and moderately. It correlates and associates with line 5, the representative line of the upper trigram Qian, in a way that heaven stays on top and the flame below blazes upward. This is called Tong Ren (i.e. putting differences aside and pursuing one goal). As trigram Li moves in the direction of trigram Qian which denotes the norm of heaven, line 2, the representative line of Tong Ren, can definitely overcome difficulties in undertaking a great mission.

The brightness of trigram Li symbolises civilization, i.e. rationality. Perseverance is the characteristic of trigram Qian. Rationality is cultivated internally and acts externally with perseverance; this is the norm of Tong Ren. Their representative lines 2 and 5 act moderately (i.e. impartially) and righteously (i.e. they are upright). These are the norms of a gentleman and are conducive to making friends and building fellowship through correlation.

Commentary on the image: Heaven and fire; Tong Ren.  A gentleman in accordance with this categorises things into different types and classes in order to distinguish them.

Heaven is on top and the flame blazes upward; they are of two types but similar in this respect. A gentleman must learn how to distinguish common points, despite differences, in order to reach consensus.


To build fellowship which exists everywhere signifies that people sharing the same ideals can unite widely and carry out their aims smoothly; it is instrumental in overcoming difficulties to achieve what is intended. It is advantageous for a gentleman to persist in the norm of Tong Ren, to put differences aside and seek common ground to make friends, to build fellowship.

Hexagram Tong Ren provides an ideal and its environment. It possesses the virtues of smooth progress and advantage, but lacks those of origination and persistence; this signifies that what it needs is to seek the root (i.e. common ground) and reach the goal with fortitude.

The inner hexagram is Gou (44) where a vigorous feminine power is emerging. The changing hexagram Shi (7), the army, signifies that people are organised as a result of an inner crisis.

Tong Ren can be referred to as the integration of different people; its ideal is "people around the world are one family". 





Line 2 is the representative line of hexagram Tong Ren, and represents fellowship; all the masculine lines aim to possess it. Fellowship can be nearby, as it stands at the door. However, it will create conflict if fellowship becomes exclusive. The correlative relationship offers the two lines concerned firm engagement and biased favour. In addition to discrimination (against the outsider), there also exist other barriers on the way to fellowship such as competition, self-imposed restriction, indifference, etc. Once these are overcome, fellowship can be established. Even if it is difficult to reach the ideal of hexagram Tong Ren (that people around the world are one family), people should live together, at least without conflict.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Tong Ren (fellowship) at the door; (this will result in) no fault (or calamity).

Text explanation:

Trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) resembles a door, something that separates the private from the public sphere. The lower trigram Li here looks like line 1 standing at its exit.


Upper trigram Qian denotes the father, which is taken here to symbolise the clan. Line 1 has no correlation with Qian, the clan, but is friendly next to line 2, fellowship, and accepts it like opening a door and letting it in. Fellowship is possible when one arrives at the door; then the only thing left to consider is whether one has the intention to make friends. The person here doesn’t engage with clan members but pursues fellowship. This signifies that he can make friends with anyone, openly and without discrimination. There should be no fault or calamity.

Commentary on the image: To get out the door (and) Tong Ren (to build fellowship with others); who will fault it?

Line 1 is in the beginning phase of the hexagram and it is difficult to know what will happen later in the hexagram. It has an open mind to go out and make friends with others; even if the outcome is still unknown, who will fault it?

Enlightenment through nine one: not to exclude but open the door. To be open and active in making friends with others, fellowship is possible, as if standing in front of a door; there is no fault or calamity. Should this line change its attitude becoming feminine and associating only with clan, the hexagram would become Dun (33), reclusion, i.e. to live in an isolated world.


The 2nd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Tong Ren (fellowship) in the clan; (this will cause) resentment.

Text explanation:

To limit fellowship to clan members signifies forming an exclusive faction which is partial and will cause resentment.

Line 2 is the only feminine line in Tong Ren. Presumably, it should be impartial and establish fellowship with all the masculine lines. But it only correlates with line 5, which reveals a bias and will create animosity among the other masculine lines. Line 5, the representative line of the upper trigram Qian, represents a clan.

Commentary on the image: Tong Ren (fellowship) in the clan, (signifying it is) the path to resentment.

Enlightenment through six two: Prejudice will result in fault and exclusiveness will lead to resentment. To only make friends with clan members, i.e. partial and narrow-hearted fellow-ship, will be resented. This signifies that it will lead to calamity if no correction is made timely. If this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram will change to Qian (1), perseverance, where fellowship disappears leaving only clan members.


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) hiding in thick grass to ambush, (and) climbing the mountain; (it ought) to withhold (action) for three years.

Text explanation:

A person is looking for fellowship. However barriers such as the counterpart's different goals and outer interference make the task seem insurmountable; this leads to conservatism and the fellowship can't be established at this time.

Line 3, on top of line 2, is entitled to occupy it (fellowship); however line 2 is firmly engaged to line 5. Line 3 stands in the way of line 2 going upward to correlate with line 5; it intends to intercept the fellowship. But line 5 is masculine and at the king’s position, i.e. it is rigid and possesses dominant power, so line 3 doesn't dare take action.

The inner lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind, wood) here represents grass; line 3 hides in it with the intention to ambush. Lines 2 and 3 partially resemble trigram Gen (mountain). Line 3 ascends to the top to scrutinise the situation. The lower trigram Li denotes weaponry, i.e. symbols of war.


Ten represents the greatest duration of time, and five denotes half. Although three is a period of time that is not long, it is not short either when waiting is concerned. Line 3 expresses a kind of prudence, calmness and patience. It withholds action for three steps, i.e. when the opportunity appears at position 5.

Commentary on the image: (Line 3 is in a state of) hiding in the thick grass to ambush, (because) the enemy is rigid. (It ought) to withhold (action) for three years, (signifying that) it plays it safe.

   Line 5 is the rival, masculine rigidity at the position of masculine. Line 3 refrains from launching a battle as it wants to make sure that fellowship can be successfully achieved.

Enlightenment through nine three: 1) fellowship is not something that one can force or win through conflict, 2) to temporarily withhold action as consensus needs time. Fellowship can't be achieved for the time being because the counterpart favours others and the rival is too strong. When it isn't possible to secure success, one should not engage in conflict but temporarily let the situation be. One should not think and do what is undesired as suggested by hexagram Wu Wang (25) which forms after this line is activated. 


The 4th line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) climbing the city wall, (and) being unable to attack; (this is of) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Line 4 has no access to line 2 (fellowship). In fact line 2 is engaged to line 5 which is at the king's position, and line 4, staying next to it, is full of fear. Therefore instead of fighting for fellowship, it maintains a lookout position, like climbing the city wall.

The inner lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) is an entrance which is taken here for the gate of the city wall; line 4 is on top of it. In particular, position 4 is a place for resting (after having marched up from the lower trigram); therefore defence instead of offense is auspicious.


Line 4 isn't in a position for fellowship but lives in a world where lines 5 and 3 battle over line 2. It should remain still and vigilant, maintaining a defensive position on the city wall.

Commentary on the image: Climbing the city wall, which signifies (line 4 is) unable to (attack).  It is auspicious (due to) retreating before being besieged (or reflecting over what would cause it to be besieged).

Should line 4 be insistent and interact with line 2 by exchanging positions, the hexagram would become Xiao Chu (9), the small feminine serving and playing games with the large masculine, and the upper trigram would become Li (clinging, fire) which here is taken for battle and a net. This signifies that it would place itself in battle and a trap. The act of moving back-ward along the timeline is taken for reflection (over an event's cause and effect).



Enlightenment through nine four: 1) not to make plans with those who do not share the same principle, or 2) not to get involved in the troubles of others. If it is not possible to build fellowship, or there are too many conflicts to reach common ground, it is better not to forcibly seek it but maintain a lookout position, vigilant and patient. This is auspicious as it won't be trapped in conflict. When this line is activated becoming feminine, the hexagram changes from building fellowship to building household. Hexagram Jia Ren (37), the household, derives from Dun (33), retreat, after people are hurt in Ming Yi (36), brightness being tarnished.


The 5th line

Text: Tong Ren (fellowship) cries first but laughs later; the vast armies win (the battle) and manage to join forces.

Text explanation:

After having defeated lines 3 and 4, lines 5 and 2 finally meet and join together, signifying that fellowship is established.

The lower trigram Li denotes the eyes, while the inner lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) is reverse Dui (joy, the marsh) signifying the opposite of joyfulness; so line 2 is seen as crying eyes. After lines 5 and 2 interact and exchange positions, the inner upper trigram becomes Dui, joy and the mouth, signifying laughter.


The next hexagram is Da You (14), abundant possessions, which should be distributed equally to all people. This is the goal of hexagram Tong Ren (people around the world being one family).

Confucius’s statement with regard to ‘crying first but laughing later’ in Xi Ci Zhuan (i.e. the commentary on the text tagging): 'The norm of a gentleman is either to be accomplished or kept within himself, either to be expressed in public or silently concealed. Two people have the same aspiration; their sharpness can cut metal, and their words smell like an orchid'. A gentleman will hold fast to his belief but won't force others to accept it. However, when two gentlemen of the same belief join forces, they operate like an irresistible force.

Commentary on the image: The (crying) first of Tong Ren (fellowship) (but laughing later), (which means that they encounter difficulties but succeed in overcoming them) by means of moderation and uprightness (i.e. acting in a reasonable but unyielding manner).  The vast armies meet one another, signifying that (the challenge of building fellowship) has been won.

Enlightenment through nine five: 1) those who cherish the same ideals will follow the same course, or 2) where there's a will there's a way. After all difficulties have been overcome, the fellowship is finally established. To build fellowship, i.e. to eliminate differences and reach common ground, is a long process, full of conflicts; the process can discourage people but it ends in happiness. All this must and can be achieved through a moderate but unyielding way. After this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram becomes Li (30), fire, where the upper trigram becomes fire as well.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Tong Ren (fellowship) in the suburbs; (this is of) no regret.

Text explanation:

A suburb is an area outside town but not as far as the countryside. Line 6 reaches the end of hexagram Tong Ren but not as far as the countryside. Although it can’t fully achieve the target which the hexagram text aims for, there is no regret.

Line 6 is far from line 2, fellowship, and lives in the suburbs, i.e. a place away from the centre of conflict. It should be disappointed that it can’t establish fellowship as widely as expected. However, it need not regret anything as long as it can live without conflict.

In the beginning phase of Tong Ren, it is difficult for line 1 to know what will happen later in this hexagram. Thus, after line 6 has gone through and experienced all the steps, it feels no regret (for what it missed at position 5). Fellowship is for those who have common ground (such as righteousness and moderation) and are willing to put differences (masculine and feminine) aside to reach the same goal (through correlation).

Commentary on the image: Tong Ren (fellowship) in the suburbs, (signifies that) the aspiration has not yet been realised.

Line 6 arrives at the end of building fellowship; it reaches the suburbs but is one step short of the countryside; therefore its aspiration has not been realised yet.

Enlightenment through nine six: losing somewhere while gaining elsewhere. Fellowship doesn't reach the optimal level of Tong Ren. However, there is no regret as it secures peace. Should this line change its attitude becoming another feminine, the hexagram would become Ge (49), where revolution takes place, i.e. one force overthrows the other force.